TOKYO, Japan, April 2. THE Japan Swim kicked off in fine fashion today in Tokyo with some blazing fast efforts by those in assemblance. The meet is serving as part of Japan's Olympic qualification process.
According to Swimming World Japanese correspondent Hideki Mochizuki, Japan is utilizing a different qualifying standard instead of the FINA A and B cut times. This much-faster cut will be applied by Japan in a similar fashion to the FINA A cut, where Japan will only select two swimmers if they both clock a faster time than the cut.
Men's 400 IM
In an amazingly close finish, Kosuke Hagino clipped Yuya Horihata for the Japanese national record in the distance medley, 4:10.26 to 4:10.52. Both swimmers undercut Horihata's Japanese record of 4:11.98 set at the 2011 World Championships, and jumped to seventh and ninth all time with the efforts. Only 11 men have now cleared the 4:11 barrier. Additionally, both swims cleared the previous Asian record of 4:11.61 set by China's Wang Shun at the 2011 Chinese Summer Nationals.
Incidentally, the two times now stand as the top two in the world this year, easily bettering the previous pacesetter of 4:11.81 clocked by Thomas Fraser-Holmes at the Australian Trials last month. Additionally, the duo crushed the Japanese Olympic qualifying standard to earn spots on the Olympic roster.
Daiya Seto was the hard luck third-place finisher with a strong time of 4:12.66, clearing the qualifying standard but finishing outside the top two. His time jumped him to sixth in the world with only Roberto Pavoni (4:12.43) and Michael Phelps (4:12.51) having been faster along with those already mentioned.
Yosuke Mori (4:17.43), Takeharu Fujimori (4:17.46) and Hiromasa Fujimori (4:18.64) finished fourth through sixth, all with times within the top 25 in the world this year. Hitoshi Uchida (4:19.07) and Yuta Uchida (4:23.26) rounded out the finale.
Men's 400 free
No one automatically qualified for the Olympics in the middle distance freestyle event. Fumiya Hidaka clocked a 3:48.21 in the event, which betters the FINA A cut of 3:48.92, but is slower than Japan's internal Olympic qualifying standard of 3:46.70. He may still be added to the team at a later date. His swim tonight moved him to 13th in the world rankings.
Yohei Takiguchi placed second in 3:50.18 for 23rd in the world, while Yosuke Miyamoto earned third in 3:50.34. Syo Uchida (3:50.83), Keita Moteki (3:51.24), Kohei Yamamoto (3:52.69), Junpei Higashi (3:53.19) and Shinichirou Shibata (3:54.97) also vied for the championship title.
Women's 400 IM
Miyu Ohtsuka made the Japanese Olympic cut in the distance medley with a 4:36.64 for the win, while Miho Takahashi also made the squad with a 4:37.71 for second place, just clipping the standard. Ohtsuka moved to seventh in the world with the swim, while Takahashi took ninth.
Maiko Fujino placed third in 4:38.55, missing the Olympic squad in the process, but moving to 11th in the world rankings with the effort.
Emu Higuchi (4:41.10), Kyouka Suenaga (4:42.67), Sakiko Shimizu (4:43.60), Masami Uchikoshi (4:46.70) and Wakaba Hashiguchi (4:49.97) also swam in the championship heat.
Women's 400 free
Japan missed out on qualifying anyone in this event this evening as Asami Chida touched out Aya Takano, 4:10.72 to 4:10.74, for the win. Ayano Koguchi (4:13.57), Mizuki Nonaka (4:14.89), Misato Iwanaga (4:15.32), Muranaka Miina (4:16.07), Atsuyo Yoshida (4:16.28) and Yurie Yano (4:17.95) made up the rest of the championship finale.
Women's 100 fly
Only Yuka Katou demonstrated the ability to clear Japan's cut during finals with a swift 58.23 during semis. That swim pushed her to 10th in the world rankings, and lined her up for a potential Olympic-qualifying swim during the finale.
Tomoyo Fukuda placed second in semis with a 58.98, while Nao Kobayashi (59.03), Rino Hosoda (59.41), Yai Watanabe (59.86), Maho Takiguchi (59.89), Kei Hoshiba (1:00.04) and Hiroko Sugino (1:00.17) also made the championship heat.
Men's 100 breast
Kosuke Kitajima is one step closer to qualifying for his chance to become the first man to ever win an event in three straight Olympic Games. While Michael Phelps might beat him to the punch if he decides to swim the 400 IM, the two-time reigning 100 and 200 breaststroke Olympic champion clocked a world-leading time of 59.31 during semis of the 100 breast. This swim smashed the previous top time of 59.91 clocked by Christian Sprenger at the Australian Trials last month.
Ryo Tateishi also cleared the Japanese cut with a second-seeded 1:00.04, but will have to do it again in finals to make the Olympic squad in the event. Tateishi tied Glenn Snyders for third in the world rankings behind only Kitajima and Sprenger.
Hiromasa Sakimoto (1:00.96) and Akihiro Yamaguchi (1:00.99) qualified third and fourth to move to 19th and 20th in the world rankings, while Daiki Sakata posted a 1:01.10 for 25th in the world. Naoya Tomita (1:01.13), Yasuhiro Koseki (1:01.15) and Kohei Tominaga (1:01.39) also earned their way into the finale.